Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you? When the film The Graduate premiered in December 1967, there were only modest expectations attached to what seemed to be a small, sexy, art-house comedy adapted from an obscure first novel by an eccentric twenty-four-year-old. There was little indication that this offbeat story--a young man just out of college has an affair with one of his parents’ friends and then runs off with her daughter--would turn out to be a monster hit and cultural touchstone, with an extended run in theaters and seven Academy Award nominations (including a win for its director, Mike Nichols). The film catapulted an unknown actor, Dustin Hoffman--who certainly didn’t look like the typical Hollywood leading man--to stardom with a role that is now permanently engraved in our collective memory. The moody, evocative Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack changed the way movies have been scored ever since. And just as it turned the word plastics into shorthand for soulless work and a corporate, consumer culture, it sparked a national conversation about what came to be called “the generation gap.”
Now, in time for the film’s fiftieth birthday, Seduced by Mrs. Robinson is a lively and insightful exploration of the film, its era (the late 1960s, when the times, they were a-changin’), and its enduring influence. Film veteran and author Beverly Gray takes us behind the scenes of the production and into the drama and decision-making of the cast and crew, and she offers a close reading of the film itself. The Graduate has had a lasting impact on other films and filmmakers, popular culture, and on moviegoers, who continue to watch it on Netflix and elsewhere.